Presidential, court race expected to drive high turnout

Grafton School District’s $49.5 million referendum also likely to spur heavy voting in next week’s election

The rhetoric is almost over as Ozaukee County and Wisconsin prepare for next Tuesday’s presidential primary election.

With not just the April 5 presidential primary but numerous local elections — including a $49.5 million school referendum in Grafton — and a contentious race for Wisconsin Supreme Court, turnout is expected to be high.

In the City of Port Washington, Clerk Susan Westerbeke noted that statewide, turnout is estimated to be 40% — something she said is likely to occur in the city.

That compares to the last presidential primary in 2012, when turnout in the city was 25%.

“With the city, we always have vigorous turnout,” Westerbeke said, adding it’s often 5% higher than the state predictions.

Early voting, which runs through Friday, April 1, has been brisk, she said Tuesday.

She warned that voters expecting only the current candidates for president to be on the ballot will be surprised. There are a dozen Republicans on the ballot as well as three Democrats, even though most have dropped out of the race already. 

That’s because the ballots were approved in January, she said.

Depending on where you live, the turnout could be even higher.

For example, the Grafton School District’s $49.5 million referendum is likely to draw a crowd to the polls. Officials have split the referendum into two questions, one seeking $47.7 million for renovations to schools and $1.8 million to upgrade physical education, athletic and recreational areas.

The referendum comes just a year after Port Washington-Saukville School District voters approved a $49.4 million referendum — the most expensive in the district’s history — by a 208 vote margin. Work on that project is beginning at Port Washington High School and Dunwiddie Elementary School.

There are some significant similarities in the votes. Grafton, like Port-Saukville, is seeking a record amount of money to pay for repairs to buildings that can’t be covered by the annual budget. 

But unlike Port-Saukville, there is significant organized opposition to the referendum.

The Grafton school referendum is likely to draw the largest local interest this election, but there are other races on the ballot.

In the Grafton School District, there are four candidates seeking two spots on the School Board, while in the Port Washington-Saukville School District, three candidates are seeking two City of Port seats on the board. No one is running for the open seat representing the towns of Grafton and Saukville, however, so a write-in candidate could take that spot.

In the Northern Ozaukee School District, there are races for the town and village of  Fredonia seats on the board.

Municipal elections may not attract many voters to the polls, since there are no races in northern Ozaukee County.

For example, in the City of Port Washington, where the past year has brought a significant public debate over the sale of city-owned property for development, there are no races on the ballot. The three incumbents seeking re-election to the Common Council are running unopposed.

 There are a handful of contested races for Ozaukee County supervisor, though.

In District 15, incumbent Kathy Geracie is being challenged by Jason Myatt for a Cedarburg seat.

In District 21, former Supr. Bob Walerstein is challenging incumbent Justin Strom for a Mequon seat.

Incumbent Karl Hertz is being challenged by Cynthia Raatz for the District 22 seat in Thiensville, and longtime Mequon Supr. Jennifer Rothstein is being challenged by Kimberly Steinbrenner for the 26th District seat.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 5.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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